Mid-interview, as a cacophony of fireworks boomed, a graphic flashed up on the screen announcing a 10-second time penalty for Alonso, and a revised order confirmed Russell in third.
Russell was swiftly whisked away to Media Island – located a golf buggy ride away on the inside of Turn 27 – for the press conference, while Alonso made his way to the pen interviews.
At that stage it was suspected that the rear jackman’s interference was culpable but the official FIA document did not land several hours later – due to everyone involved being busy assessing the situation.
Aston Martin had already gathered documents and evidence to fight its cause, with Sporting Director Andy Stevenson doing so, while an animated Alonso addressed various media crews, before Russell re-appeared to complete TV interviews with the trophy.
The FIA eventually outlined that Race Control, aided by the Remote Operations Centre in Geneva, determined the penalty had been properly served by Alonso.
However, on the last lap of the race, stewards subsequently received a report from Race Control that they considered the penalty not properly served.
Where this report arose from – an hour after the penalty was initially served – was never confirmed, but per FIA protocol stewards must review a situation if it has been passed on by Race Control.
In that review stewards outlined that at Sporting Advisory Committee meetings with Formula 1 teams it was agreed that no part of the car could be touched while a penalty was being served.
Subsequently based on this representation the stewards determined that touching the car actually amounted to working on the car, consequently explaining the 10-second demotion.
Aston Martin subsequently issued a Petition for Review at which the stewards were shown the minutes of the most recent SAC meeting as well as video evidence of seven different instances where cars were touched by the jackman (it did not specify front or rear) while serving a similar penalty to Alonso’s.
Aston Martin alleged that the representation of an agreement between the FIA and teams that touching the car in anyway to constitute ‘working’ on the car was incorrect.
Stewards agreed that the evidence provided by Aston Martin was new and significant to warrant a Right of Review.
At the subsequent hearing stewards concluded that there was ‘no clear agreement’ that could be relied upon to determine that teams had agreed that a jack touching a car would amount to working on the car.
Consequently the substratum of the original decision was incorrect and the penalty had to be reversed.
This filtered through at 01:03, over three hours after the conclusion of the race, with many paddock personnel already on their way – or at – Jeddah airport in order to leave the country.
It meant that Alonso was back in third, with Russell fourth, as per the order when the chequered flag was waved.